What is it?
Iron deficiency anemia is a condition where the body has a decreased supply of red blood cells due to insufficient iron. When iron is low, the body can struggle to produce a protein of red blood cells called hemoglobin. Oxygen binds to hemoglobin and is carried throughout the bloodstream. When the body does not have enough iron to produce hemoglobin, it causes iron deficiency anemia.
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. Some people may not notice they have this condition, whereas others do.
Signs and Symptoms
- Extreme fatigue
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath, chest pain, or fast heartbeat
- Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Poor appetite, seen commonly in infants and children
- Brittle nails
- Lack of iron in diet
- Blood loss
- Inability to absorb iron
- Enhance your diet with foods rich in iron, such as red meat, dark green leafy vegetables (like spinach), beans, dried fruits (like raisins or apricots), iron fortified cereals, bread, or pasta
- Take vitamin C to help absorb iron or eat foods rich in vitamin C, such as broccoli, grapes, kiwi, leafy greens, melons, oranges, peppers, strawberries, tangerines, and tomatoes
Iron deficiency anemia can be diagnosed through blood tests.
This can include a diet of iron-rich foods. Supplements may be required (talk to your health care provider)
Who is at risk?
- Women due to menstruation
- Children and infants due to diet
- Vegetarians due to diet
- Frequent blood donors due to possible depletion of stores